A brief introduction to our plum, damson, bullace and cherry varieties

Plums and particularly damsons and bullaces were also to be found in hedges and woods. A small trade developed in the villages along the Severn, from where they were shipped to industrial South Wales,

A cut in tax and growth in sugar production in the colonies resulted in Britain in the 1850/60s having probably the cheapest sugar in the World. This encouraged the production of jam, the Blaisdon Red, and Yellow Egg plum found in woods and hedges in the Severn Vale met this demand.

On 10th February 1619 a dispute was heard in the Bishop’s Court between the vicar of Hartpury and Richard Nelme concerning the latter’s refusal to pay tithe on £4 worth of cherries. £4 in 1619 = £750 today, so evidently cherries were a significant crop at that time

Stones from Prunus avium (sweet cherry) and P. cerasus (sour cherry) were found in Nympsfield Long Barrow.

Heritage collections of plums, cherries and damsons are being planted in GOT’s Longney orchards to ensure these old varieties saved for future generations.

Heg Peg Dump was a popular dish in Gloucestershire, made with suet and plums/damsons and served on St Margaret’s Day (20th July).

Publications about Gloucestershire Plums

Charles Martell’s book Native Plums of Gloucestershire was published in spring 2018. It describes the stone fruit of Gloucestershire, discusses what is meant by the names plum, bullace, pruin and damson and when and how they arrived in our countryside and considers the Shadow Orchard and the emergence of fruit into the managed orchard. It complements our other books (also by Charles) on Gloucestershire’s Apples and Pears. Details of all these are available on the bookshop page of our main website.

Sample list of a few local plum varieties

Barley Plum, Blaisdon Red, Bristol, Damson Plum, Dymock Red, Frampton Magnum, Gloucestershire Violet, Groves Late Victoria, Jacob, Johnnie Moor, Jimmy Moore, Michaelmas Damson, Old Pruin, Rodley Blackjack, Rowles Pruin, Shit Smock, Smith’s Pruin, Sweet Damson, Velvets, Victor Christian, Winterbourne Magnum, Yellow Egg,

A list of Gloucestershire plums and their status

Status codes and notes on names

  • Not endangered – more than 20 sites currently known
  • Endangered, 10 to 20 sites
  • Critical, 10 sites or fewer
(coming soon)
Blaisdon Red Plum 
Originated in the village of Blaisdon. Was used for jam-making until the jam factories made use of freezing.
Existing Unknown Blaisdon
Bristol Plum 
A rare variety found round Rodley and adjoining riverside areas.
Existing Unknown Rodley
Damson Plum 
This variety looks a bit like a Blaisdon, but with a slender stem. The only known site in Gloucestershire is the New Grounds, Slimbridge, where the tree was planted in the early 1900s.
Existing Unknown Slimbridge
Dymock Red Plum 
From the village of its name and still quite common. Shaped like a miniature peach.
Existing Unknown Dymock
Frampton Magnum Plum 
From Frampton Cotterell and was used to sustain local coal miners.
Existing Unknown Frampton Cotterell
Frampton Plum (synonym for Frampton Magnum Plum)
Groves Late Victoria Plum 
Like a Victoria but is ready 10 days later.
Existing Unknown Unknown
Jacob Plum 
Now known from one old tree at Rodley. Was previously used as a rootstock for grafting other varieties on to. It has a distinctive striated bark.
Existing Unknown Rodley
Johnnie Moor Plum 
An old variety from Cheltenham. It is now lost.
Lost Unknown Cheltenham
Michaelmas Damson 
A small damson which looks exactly like a Sweet Damson – but with a bitter flavour.
Existing Unknown Unknown
Old Pruin 
Like an elongated damson. As well as eating it was used for dying cloth.
Existing Unknown Unknown
Rodley Blackjack 
Small plum from Rodley, frequently used as a rootstock for grafting other varieties on to.
Existing Unknown Rodley
Rowell’s Pruin 
From the Arlingham peninsula. An underrated variety with a flavour between plum and damson.
Existing Unknown Arlingham
Shit Smock 
Known from Chaxhill and Longhope areas. Small and greenish like a grape. Overindulgence could probably have dire consequences – hence its name.
Existing Unknown Chaxhill
Smith’s Pruin 
Like an Old Pruin but a bit bigger, a bit rounder, a bit later and a heavier cropper. Was found in the Chaxhill area and is now lost.
Lost Unknown Unknown
Sweet Damson 
Looks like a Michaelmas damson but is ready much earlier and is pleasant to eat.
Existing Unknown Unknown
Victor Christian Plum 
A large blue-black plum and a light cropper.
Existing Unknown Unknown